By Mfon Okon
The coalition of Families of Next of Kin of Late Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State yesterday came out in large number at the State Secretariat with different placards to express their frustration and anger over failure of the State Government to pay the entitlement of their late parents since 1991 up till date.
Our reporter who was at the venue of the protest, reports that large number of aged men, women and young people defiled the scourging sun and moved around the secretariat with different placards and singing solidarity songs like “all we are saying is give us our right and Mbion adong owo (there is so much hunger in the land) Udom pay us our entitlement”
Some of them who spoke with our reporter narrated their ordeal saying that some them have been screened by SUBEB since 2010, and that SUBEB issued them clearance slips for payment and up till today, they have not received any payment from the State Government.
Some of placards had inscription as, “no more politics with orphans, pay us our entitlement, pay entitlement of the next of kin of late primary school teachers in AKS from 1991 still date, where is 24.5bn Paris Club refund? we are tired of waiting, Governor Udom Anie Owo Ekukpeb? (Who taught you Governor Udom, was it not a teacher?) Is it a curse to be a primary school teacher? Among others
One of them who gave his name as Chief Joseph Abraham told our reporter that he is still wondering how the state government could be so insensitive that it could not even consider how these next of kin are faring after the demise of their parents, wives uncles and relatives. He explained that he lost his wife since 2010 and that the unfortunate issues is that he does not have substantial means of income to take of his family, as the late wife was the dependent bread winner to the family.
Another retire teacher who gave her name as Mrs. Veronica Akpan, told our reporter that she is a widow and that ever since she lost her husband in 2007, life has not been easy with her and her children. She narrated her ordeal and the failure of the State Government to pay her the benefit of her late husband saying it is wickedness of the highest order. She said that presently she cannot pay her children schools fees since she lost her husband.
Others who spoke with our correspondent said that they are wondering how any of them will vote for Governor Udom to win his second term bid with the present circumstances in the State, since the governor has deliberately exposed them to serious hunger by refusing to pay them their entitlement.
Some of the young men and women who spoke with our reporter explained trauma they are going through since the lost their parents, as many of them cannot further their education, while some have voluntarily drooped out of school because of no sponsors. They maintained that some of them do not have any hand work to as there is no place for them to work in the state. They advised the State Governor Mr. Udom Emmanuel that if their entitlements are not paid, he should forget about his second term bid that it won’t work for him
Another visibly angry protester, Mr. Udeme John, regretted the fact the present State Governor for once has never showed any commitment to the plight of the next of kin in the state, adding that it was surprising to hear how the State Governor went on air on the April 6, 2016 to say that the government is not owing them. He pointed out they have made claims on their entitlements as the next of kin of Late Primary School Teachers for many years even when the present governor was serving as Secretary to the State Government, SSG in the immediate past administration.